In his ancient treatise on The Art of War, Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of soldiers knowing their enemy. As a soldier of Christ waging a spiritual warfare (II Cor. 10:3,4; Eph. 6:12), the Christian would be wise to know his greatest enemy, the devil. To that end, listen to the apostle Paul as he makes a very interesting statement in II Corinthians 2:11 - "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." In Paul's remark, we learn that there are devices--techniques, if you will--that the devil uses in his wicked work against righteousness and those who would pursue righteousness. In the moments that follow today and in our time together during the next two days, let us consider five devices from the devil's toolkit that he uses against those who would learn of God and do His will.
First and foremost, the devil uses our own desires. It is important that we realize this, for different people have different desires. One person may have no desire to steal, become drunk, or commit fornication, but he may have a desire to tell lies. Another person may have no desire to lie, steal, or become drunk, but he may be inclined toward fornication. James describes how sin starts with each of us: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14,15). Remember the three B's: Beckon, Bait, and Bend. Satan has no power over us when we are walking in the light, so he beckons us away from the light, playing off our desires. As a person responds to the beckoning of their desires, the bait is laid in the form of temptation. At this point, the tempted individual is in a dangerous position, but still has control. He or she can still use the "the way of escape" provided (I Cor. 10:13). It is only when the individual's will bends, and succumbs to the temptation, that sin is committed and the devil scores a victory. Friends, be mindful of your desires!
Evil company is another tool used by the devil. Perhaps you've heard the expression, "the right tool for the job." Our adversary knows the importance of using the right tool for the job, and young people should pay attention because evil company is one of the devil's best devices against them. The devil knows how powerful a tool the pressure of one's peers is. All would do well to remember Paul's warning to the church at Corinth: "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits'" (I Cor. 15:33). What is evil company? Evil company is simply company that commits or encourages evil, sinful behavior. Do not equate evil company with the company of strangers. It is easy to think of evil company as only thugs, drug dealers, and gang members, but such is not the case. Evil company can take the form of friends, family, and, yes, even "religious" people! Those who have the most sway over us are the people we know, and I cannot recall a single time where I heard of someone adopting one of the wretched vices of our age from a total stranger. Evil company in the form of the children of Israel pressured Aaron to make a golden calf in Exodus 32. Evil company in the form of Job's wife suggested that he "curse God, and die" in Job 2:9. Other examples abound in the sacred text. Let us be mindful of the company we keep!
Friends, it is important that we realize the ways in which the devil seeks to lure us away from the path of righteousness. Meditate upon these two things today, and tomorrow we will consider two more devices in the devil's toolkit.